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New regulator – a big step forward for safe drinking water

New regulator – a big step forward for safe drinking water

31 July 2019

Water New Zealand has described the proposed water reforms announced by the Government today as ground-breaking.

Chief executive John Pfahlert says this is a major initiative which signals a big shift in the way drinking water will be regulated.

He says the changes will result in a big improvement in water quality and New Zealanders’ access to safe drinking water.

“The Government has picked up on all the key issues raised at the Havelock North contamination inquiry. This is clearly a well thought through series of proposed policy changes.”

The Government is proposing moving drinking water provisions out of the multi-purpose Health Act and into a stand-alone Water Services Bill.

“This will help ensure greater focus is placed on drinking water safety.

“It also means that there will be a stronger, centralised approach to compliance, monitoring and enforcement and that all drinking water suppliers will be required to provide safe drinking water.

“The proposed new regulator will be responsible for ensuring that all drinking water suppliers are able to provide safe drinking water, including small suppliers and those who are currently struggling.”

The Government has indicated that the new regulator will be able to support suppliers to comply with all their regulatory obligations, build capability and capacity in the sector and take appropriate action to address non-compliance.

John Pfahlert say he welcomes the inclusion of other small water suppliers such as schools and marae into the regulatory system.

“These suppliers have been overlooked for too long and this has meant that many people have been at risk of drinking contaminated water. It is likely that small suppliers will need some financial support to bring their water supplies up to standard, and I would support any move by the Government to provide assistance.

He says the new system will require the new regulator to be highly competent and well resourced.

“Including wastewater and stormwater in the new regulatory system and establishing new national environmental standards for wastewater discharges and overflows will help improve water quality.

“The three waters – drinking, waste and stormwater - are inextricably linked, so to ensure the health and sustainability of our water in the long term, it is important to acknowledge the impact that all water has on the environment.”

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